Pedals are one of the most personal component selections on any mountain bike. As one of three contact points, most riders are so addicted to one specific type–or even model–of pedal that most high-end mountain bike brands don’t even include pedals on the bikes that they sell. We surveyed 2,100 mountain bikers to see which pedals they think are best, and here’s what they chose.
While some riders may be diehard fans of one specific pedal, with ongoing advancements in pedal technology it is entirely possible that the model of pedal that you’ve been using for years–perhaps decades–is no longer the optimal pedal for you. This list showcases the various types of pedals currently available–maybe you should consider branching out and sampling something new?
9. Shimano M520
Shimano M520 pedal is a classic example of a standard clipless mountain bike pedal. The reliable performance and the incredibly affordable price– find a deal as low as $26–have allowed this pedal to remain a popular choice among mountain bikers for years. In fact, I personally have four pairs of these pedals mounted on various bicycles, including mountain, road, and fat bikes.
- Weight: 380g
- Price: $45 MSRP (buy online from REI )
However, this is the only classic-style clipless pedal to make this list, indicating that the standard clipless pedal may be well past its prime in the mountain bike marketplace… and that I may need to update my fleet of pedals. Read on for the other pedal selections from the crowd.
8. Crank Brothers Mallet DH Race
Crank Brothers’ Mallet pedals are a perennial favorite, with the Mallet DH pedal nabbing the #8 spot on this list. This pedal is indicative of another trend we’ll see on the rest of this list: the combination of both a clipless cleat and a flat pedal platform, with 8 pins per side. But unlike the other clipless/flat combos on this list, the Mallet offers a full-size platform.
- Weight: 479g
- Price: $165 MSRP (buy online at Amazon)
While this is the only Crank Brothers pedal to crack this list, if we categorize all of the votes from our survey by brand, Crank Brothers claims a #2 spot behind the ubiquitous Shimano. So why aren’t more Crank Bros pedals on this list?
Simply put, Crank Brothers sells many more versions in each pedal line than Shimano does. The Mallet pedal is available in 7 different configurations–the DH Race model is just one of the 7. The popular Candy pedal is currently offered in 5 models. The Eggbeater has 4 different models. And that doesn’t even consider the Double Shot, Stamp, and 5050 collections, all with their own variants. If we categorized all of the Candy models together, it would claim the #1 spot on this list.
However, as you scroll down, you’ll note that Shimano has three nearly-identical pedals on this list as well, so it’s difficult to decide exactly where the line should be drawn in terms of naming conventions. So while you won’t see the Candy on this list, consider it an honorable mention.
7. Shimano Saint MX80
Shimano’s dedicated DH flat pedal, the Saint MX80 provides a concave platform for optimal shoe grip, a chromoly spindle, and adjustable, replaceable pins.
- Weight: 500g
- Price: $100 MSRP (buy online from Amazon)
6. DMR Vault
The DMR Vault pedal offers 105mm of platform area on a 6061 aluminum body. The spindle is made of Cro-Mo steel, and 11 adjustable pins allow the rider to fine tune the pedal’s grip.
- Weight: 430g
- Price: £114.99 MSRP / ~$152.54 USD (compare prices on DMR Vault)
5. Race Face Atlas
The Race Face Atlas pedals weigh substantially less than the other full-metal flat pedals on this list, making it a fan-favorite. Like the DMR Vault above, the body is made of 6061 aluminum and the spindle of Chromoly steel. The Atlas features 20 hex traction pins per pedal (10 per side).
- Weight: 355g
- Price: $180 MSRP (compare prices)
4. Shimano M530
Why choose clipless or flats when you can have a little of both? While not the same amount of platform that the Crank Brothers Mallet provides, the M530 offers a standard SPD cleat pedal with a bit of platform to grab onto the outsole of the rider’s shoe.
- Weight: 455g
- Price: $55 MSRP (buy now from Jenson USA)
3. Race Face Chester
While the $55 price tag could lead you to believe that flat pedals with a composite body are lower-end than their metal brethren, many riders think that a composite pedal body lasts longer through repeated rock strikes. And, as an added bonus, the plastic material is lighter than metal, making the Race Face Chester both the most affordable and the lightest pair of flat pedals on this list!
The Chester offers an expansive 110mm x 101mm platform with 8 pins per side.
- Weight: 340g
- Price: $55 MSRP (compare prices on Race Face Chester)
2. Shimano XTR Trail
Shimano’s XTR Trail pedal offers a nearly-identical form factor to the SLX-level M530 above, just with higher-end technology and a 100g lower weight.
- Weight: 358g
- Price: $180 MSRP (buy now from REI)
1. Shimano XT M785 Trail
If you’re feeling a sense of deja vu right now, I don’t blame you: the XT M785 pedal is nearly identical to the Shimano pedals in spots #2 and #4 on this list, but the XT wins out with its proven balance between an affordable price, high performance, and reasonable weight. While just 50g more than the XT pedal, it drops $60 off the retail price. Note: the M785 have since been upgraded to the M8020 model.
- Weight: 404g
- Price: $120 MSRP (buy now from Amazon)
An endless debate rages in the mountain bike world: “Which is better: clipless or flat pedals?” Our survey respondents have weighed in loud and clear with the selections on this list, answering: “Why not both?!” While one true clipless pedal made this list compared to four dedicated flat pedals, the clear winner in the market today is a combination of the best features of both types of pedals.
Your Turn: Did your favorite pedals not make this list? Tell us about them in the comments section below!
DMR Vault Mg. The Vault grip and platform at only 360g. I’m hooked. Or the Vault Mg Superlight (Ti axle) at 290g, but big bucks.
Once again, “most used” or “most popular” rather than a “Best” list but as the former, I’d say the list is dead on. I myself have used Shimano XTR or XT clipless for the last 20-25 years and still have XTR on one of my bikes. I have just started migrating over to flats (less than 10 rides total) and while *so far*, I’m not buying into the mumbo-jumbo that they make you a better rider, I do see a couple advantages due to the freedom of moving my foot around own the pedals. I found a set of DMR Vaults over on Merlin dot com for about half the US prices and like Mongwolf, I’m hooked for now. I’m going to give the switch a solid 6-9 months before making any full blown conclusions but just being able to wear comfy 5-10 Freerider shoes is almost worth the switch.
still riding my Shimano 747’s from 1999 have no interest in changing. Have tried the newer SPD peddles on friends bikes and they just don’t feel as smooth getting in and out. Not the best for mud but I live in So. Cal. so it’s seldom a problem
I’ve used (3) on the list. i only ride flats now though. Of them..
The PX80 is cheap and good if you don’t want/need max grip. it also won’t chew your shins quite as bad when it slips. On the other hand, durability is pretty weak. I’ve not had a set of flats fall apart as often.
The Vaults are on one of my rides and have great grip. There are a bit pricey though and for some reason I tend to break pins regularly on them. Make sure you keep an extra bag of them on hand.
I have Hope F20s on my main ride and they feel similar to my Vaults. Price is similar…color options more fun and..have yet to snap any pins. They’re my favorite thus far.
I have been very happy with my Shimano saints on my Giant Stance, but on my new bike I went with Raceface Chesters.
I’ve been super happy with my Chesters
I tried the Raceface Chesters and with only two pins across the top and bottom they did not provide enough grip for my style of riding. Plus, I like to apply different angles of my feet to the pedals for different situations. I could not do that with the Chesters. I switch to the Bontrager Line Elite Plastic Pedals which have 10 pins per side and three across the top and bottom. I found them to be much better than the Chesters — much better grip and more viable angles.